Aka – Indigenous tribe of Congo

I joined a local group here in Brazzaville called Brazza Accueil, which arranges activities for expats and has an excellent email alert system for upcoming events and things like restaurant specials. Last week, the group was invited to the Russian Cultural Center for a special presentation by the Aka tribe, which is an indigenous tribe from northern Congo. (Note: They are sometimes called ‘pygmies’ but that term is problematic and is no longer considered appropriate.)

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The Aka people are traditional hunter-gatherers, although they do use some agricultural techniques nowadays to plant crops. In writing this post, I found this article in the Guardian which describes an interesting part of their culture: Aka fathers are almost as involved in raising babies as the women are, which obviously differs strongly from most other cultures around the world. Fathers are within arms length of their babies 47% of the time (much higher when compared to the rest of the world). Women also hunt alongside the men.

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Traditional instruments

The presentation included a showcase of various tools used by the tribe, including bows and arrows, nets, and other tools, as well as “beds” made from tree bark. After the showcase, the group performed a selection of traditional songs and dances. Below please find links to the videos. It was a wonderful event and I’m very thankful for both the Russian Cultural Center and Brazza Accueil for arranging it.

Video of women singing

Video of man playing traditional instrument

 

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